Landgoed Vilsteren Estate
The Vilsteren Estate and village are situated on the southern bank of the river Vecht. The main building of the Estate, Huis Vilsteren, was built by the architect Eduard Cuypers in 1906 on the same spot were the van Vilsteren family already lived. The landscape architect Dirk ter Steeg designed the garden around the main house.
Nowadays, the Estate is almost 1,050 hectares large making it one of the ten largest estates in the Netherlands. It is managed as a business with 35 descendants of the family Cremers as shareholders and with the day-to-day management being carried out by the director-steward and 7 employees.
The mutual cohesion between the various elements, the relationship with the community, the completeness of the historical landscape, the great cultural values and the sound economic situation, makes it a unique Estate in the Netherlands. The government has acknowledged this by recognising it on several levels as being a national monument.
History of Landgoed Vilsteren
The earliest settlements on the Estate appeared on the border between the lower river bed and the higher grounds further away from the river, where the soil is poorer and more sandy. The original settlement appeared near the arable lands. Further south, in the bush and heathlands sheep grazed and heath was cut to serve as ground cover for the sheep stalls. Later this was used as manure for the arable lands. The farmers grew vegetables, buckwheat, rye, barley and later potatoes, amongst other produce. They also had cattle, which grazed on the river banks. It is this historical agricultural system, that forms the origin of the cultural landscape of Vilsteren.
From about 1382 to around 1700 the Lords of Vilsteren were the lieges of the Bishops. The family van Vilsteren were Roman Catholics. Around 1700 this meant less influence and less political possibilities. Therefore they left for Belgium settling in Laerne near Gent. They sold their possessions to their steward, Derck Rees and from that moment on the Estate was inherited by the next generations of his family. When the owner was a female, the name of the family owning the estate changed by marriage. From Rees it became Grootveld, Helmich and in around 1880 Cremers. These families started to buy more land, improving the landscape with parks, forests etc. They also rebuilt farms, built a church for the Parish, a windmill for the farmers, founded a public school and gave permission to build houses for more inhabitants. In short, they directed the development of the landscape and village. Except for the church and the school they remained owners of the land. The buildings were managed by a sort of leasehold.
The improvement of the landscape was first done in the French style. The “zeven alleetjes” (a place were 7 straight sightlines come together) is a reminder of that style. In the beginning of the 19th century the French style was replaced by the more romantic English style. Nowadays you can still see elements of this style in “de Kurkentrekker” (the corkscrew), “de Theekoepel” (the tea pavilion) and “de Kluizenaarshut” (the hermit’s cabin). These so called follies are part of a philosophical stroll in the English landscape style, which was designed by Georg Blom around 1810.
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Family owned estate, managed as a business with 37 descendants of the Cremers family as shareholders.